Micro Markets / Vending

Food at Work Series: Improving Food Beyond Vending

Before the pandemic, banks of vending machines for at-work snacks were a common sight. But since COVID-19, many companies have begun to rethink the safety of the traditional vending machine.

While vending machines have been relied upon in the past to provide snacks and beverages, a lack of fresh options and variety has always been a downfall. Add to that the multiple shared touchpoints required to select and retrieve products, and now many companies are thinking about different options.

Like the company pantry model, vending machines provide fewer options and the same surfaces are touched frequently by different people throughout the day. Both of these represent hurdles to the goals of keeping employees safe and onsite during the workday.

Today more than ever, companies are motivated to keep employees safely on site for lunch and breaks. To do so while maintaining employee morale, it is important to provide access to the things that they need and want easily and reliably. If instead of leaving to grab a fresh sandwich or salad, those options are now available at work, companies can minimize outside exposure for employees and decrease the chances of those employees being exposed to the virus and then bringing it back to the workplace and their colleagues.

Companies that previously relied on vending machines as a supplement to an employee’s daily eating habits are now turning to micro markets to offer a full food service solution. These fresh food markets at work provide complete meal and snack options so employees do not need to leave during their work shifts. And the increased variety in products can fit in the same footprint used by a traditional bank of vending machines.

Most vending machines require selections to be made by touching selection buttons and then reaching into a dispensing bin. In both those cases, the user is coming into contact with the same surfaces every other user is touching, and there is certainly no viable scenario where those buttons are cleaned between every use. While some touchless vending technology is being rolled out, it is not currently the normal course of business for vending.

Some may think an open concept micro market presents the same challenges, with multiple people touching the same products. But research shows that once a consumer touches a product, their likelihood of purchasing that product increases dramatically. So more than likely, a market user may browse the market selections visually but are probably going to purchase whatever products they touch.

As for payment, many operators including Evergreen Refreshments, offer completely contactless checkout experiences. A user can scan their product and complete payment without ever touching the kiosk. If using a member account, those accounts can also be completely managed online or through the mobile app instead of using the kiosk interface.
Evergreen Refreshments offers fully managed Avanti Markets micro market breakroom solutions at no cost to the host location. This means a location can experience the benefits of fresh, onsite foodservice without added budget burdens.

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